My daughter’s Montessori class (1st through 3rd grade) does a wonderful thing for Halloween that I thought might interest some homeschool families or teachers out there.
Instead of wearing Halloween costumes to school, or even simply using the day to celebrate fall, the children prepare an oral report about a famous historical person. They must read a book about (or by) that person, then gather facts about their chosen person, most importantly they are not allowed to tell anyone else (except the teacher of course) who they are.
Throughout the week before Halloween, the teacher briefly presents to the class each of the chosen historical figures so everyone is familiar with them.
On Halloween the children go to school dressed as their person. They each give a short presentation to the class about their person, ending their talk with the question: “Who am I?” At the end of each presentation, the class tries to guess who the student is.
I am so impressed with this idea. What a wonderful way to encourage excitement about reading, history and learning…all while dealing with the sometimes sticky issue of how to celebrate (or not celebrate) Halloween at school.
My daughter read Little House in the Big Woods and chose Laura Ingalls Wilder. We had a great bonnet in the dress-up box, but no dress. As a teenager, I used to make clothes, and I actually do own a sewing machine that I have used exactly once since I bought it about 8 years ago, so I decided to go for a Super Mom Award and make a dress!
We went to Walmart (our only local fabric source) to choose a pattern and an appropriate fabric. The pattern was simple. I chose a classic little girl dress and bought an extra yard of fabric to make it reach the ankle instead of the pattern-specified knee length. The fabric choice was a little tougher.
I was thinking “little girl in dainty flowered calico,” my 7 year-old was apparently thinking “trashy bar-maid in seedy saloon.” She kept holding up more and more impossible fabrics beginning with: “Oh look Mom!” (florescent rainbow motif) and ending with: “Would she have worn this one?” (hot pink sequins on purple sparkle background). We finally settled on something resembling more of a calico.
After many hours of work wrestling zippers and gathered sleeves, I was quite pleased with the final result. There are a few flaws that probably only I will ever see, and it might not be 100% historically accurate, but I am pretty proud of it I must say.
The presentations were amazing and the costumes were very cute, and quite clever. For example there was Neil Armstrong (tin foil boots), Abraham Lincoln (fake beard and hat of course) and Mother Teresa (very clever rendition of Mother Teresa’s classic “chura” headscarf made out of a white towel with blue ribbon sewn on!) … as well as a very realistic-looking 6 year-old Sandra Day O’Connor complete with gavel!